Sunday, January 21, 2007

Face-Lift 263

Guess the Plot

Beyond Ordino

1. Josh Ordino has a mad crush on Nancy Jones but she's so far beyond him on the scale of cool, it's hopeless. She never even said "Hello" until a tornado put her car in his ditch. Now he's standing at the kitchen window, pretending to look for the tow truck, watching the little green Munchkins running away with her purse, and wondering if he should step aside and let her see . . . beyond Ordino.

2. Callista Ordino is all that stands - or rather runs - between DeeAnn Pliner and the gold medal at the Los Angeles Marathon. But is it worth a murder charge to get . . . beyond Ordino?

3. The sign on the door on the right says "ordino." The other door reads "ourtodo." The sign above both announces "Anagram Club." Lily and Nick are the only ones to know who serial killer "The Puzzler" really is. Can they solve the clues and find him... beyond Ordino?

4. Stuck in a tiny village of cheap souvenirs, bad food, worse plumbing and with a case of The Revenge, Milly is on her bargain vacation in Italy where her only consolation is the view from the shared toilet, a view of the mountains . . . beyond Ordino.

5. Kidnaped by terrorists who are driving her to Ordino, Mandy escapes with the hunky terrorist, Sendoa, who has fallen in love with her. But Ziggy, the terrorists' interim leader, is hot on their trail. Will the chase take them . . . beyond Ordino?

6. In the vast outreaches of known space lies a pristine island planet called Ordino. Beyond it is the secret lair of GingerLady and a land of unimaginable sweets and spices. And now the Common Federation has decided to open Ordino for exploration and exploitation. Conflict ensues, but will it spread . . . beyond Ordino?

Original Version

Dear Agent,

When terrorists take Mandy Patrone on an impromptu tour of the Pyrenees, she wishes she'd packed a toothbrush. [But then, how could she have known they'd be stopping at every Kung Pao corn on the cob stand in a fifty-mile radius?]

While on vacation in Barcelona, Mandy finds herself in the middle of a struggle for freedom by the ETA, a terrorist group fighting for independence from Spain - a free Basque nation.

In the hotel room next to hers, she overhears an Englishman demanding a store of ammunition in exchange for Juan, a captive ETA cell leader. [Wait, is this like that movie, Memento, with the paragraphs in reverse order?] Alejandro, Juan's negotiator, refuses, revealing that a number of hotel patrons are being held hostage. He says they'll be killed if Juan isn't released.

The Englishman readily reveals Juan's location -- a village called Ordino in Andorra, a tiny principality in the Pyrenees. He then orders Alejandro killed. [What's the point of revealing the location if you're gonna kill the guy you reveal it to?]

Mandy is discovered by the rest of the ETA cell group and must join the hostages in the hotel courtyard. The mysterious Englishman that murders Alejandro [I thought he ordered someone else to kill him.] disappears, apparently unconcerned about the fate of the hotel patrons. Out of sheer self-preservation, Mandy impulsively tells the hostage takers where their leader is held. [Impulsively? They didn't even ask? Let's see, if they're planning to kill me, the only thing that'll keep me alive is the fact that I know where their leader is, and they don't. So . . . I'll tell them.]

One of her captors is Sendoa, a man whose family roots delve deep, [delve?] neither French nor Spanish - not even Moorish. [You say that as if it's shocking to discover that someone isn't Moorish. Wait, this could be like Rumplestilskin.

Sendoa: Guess what my ancestry is. You'll never guess. If you guess I'll let you live.
Mandy: French?

Sendoa: Nope.
Mandy: Moorish?
Sendoa: Not even close.
Mandy: Basque?
Sendoa: Augghhh! Impossible!!!! Who told you?!]

The Basque language is unique, [I'm trying to think of a language that isn't unique.] their culture like no other. He joined the movement as a young man, ignoring his family's aversion to violence. His passion stems from the murder of his brother by a Spanish policeman and he had followed Juan into exile.

Mandy recruits Sendoa as an ally when Zigor, the interim cell leader, suggests that they bring her along as leverage when they attempt to rescue their leader. [Zigor will never be more than an interim leader. A true terrorist leader doesn't "suggest," he orders.] Mandy uses wit and ingenuity to stave off sheer panic while she is taken on a wild ride through Spain. [Wit and ingenuity, eh? I'll have to try that next time I'm faced with sheer panic, instead of my usual strategy: curling into the fetal position and sobbing.]

Partway through the journey, Zigor turns against Sendoa, [Once Sendoa had been recruited onto Mandy's side, it was inevitable that Ziggy would turn against him.] due to a lie told by the Englishman, who is still after the ammunition. [Is it really that hard to get ammunition, that you have to chase terrorists through the Pyrenees? Don't they have Wal-Marts in Baskerville?] [Englishmen don't need ammunition anyway. Didn't you ever watch The Avengers?] [Excuse me a moment while I reminisce about Mrs. Peel.] Sendoa's family is in danger, and he debates whether to continue with the rescue of his leader or return to his family.

Mandy convinces him to opt for the family, and they both slip into the wilderness of the Pyrenees to reach his home in the Basque region, Zigor in hot pursuit. [That's it? What about the leader? Is anyone going after the leader?]

BEYOND ORDINO is a romantic thriller, [This is a romance? Let me guess. Mandy falls in love with the terrorist? I figured she wanted the toothbrush for a MacGyverish escape; turns out she just wants fresh breath when she kisses the Samoan.] complete at 85,000 words. According to your submission guidelines, I have enclosed the first five pages for your perusal. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Revised Version

While vacationing in Barcelona, Mandy Patrone overhears an Englishman demanding a store of ammunition in exchange for Juan, the captive leader of a Basque terrorist group seeking independence from Spain. Alejandro, Juan's negotiator, refuses, declaring that a number of hostages will be killed if Juan isn't released. The Englishman reveals Juan's location--a village called Ordino in Andorra--and then kills Alejandro.

Discovered by the terrorists, Mandy is forced to join the hostages. One of her captors is Sendoa, who joined the movement as a young man, ignoring his family's aversion to violence. His passion stems from the murder of his brother by a Spanish policeman.

When Zigor, the interim terrorist leader, orders that Mandy be brought along as leverage when they set out to rescue their leader, she is taken on a wild ride through Spain. Partway through the journey, Zigor turns against Sendoa, mainly because he won't stop singing "Mandy." Sendoa and Mandy slip into the wilderness of the Pyrenees, bound for Sendoa's home in the Basque region, Zigor in hot pursuit.

BEYOND ORDINO is a romantic thriller, complete at 85,000 words. In accordance with your submission guidelines, I have enclosed the first five pages. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Why do they take Mandy along as leverage, rather than some other hostage from the hotel? Those holding the leader don't know Mandy. The Englishman was willing to let all the hostages be killed, but they think the captors will care about just Mandy?

Apparently the Englishman reappears; once he does, they should take him as leverage.

If Sendoa is a member of the ETA, Basque would be the obvious first guess, so what's with the "neither French nor Spanish - not even Moorish"?

It was too long, and too confusing. You don't need to tell the whole plot. On the other hand it feels like you're describing the setup, and the main plot is about to begin. Is most of the book Mandy and Samosa falling in love while fleeing Ziggy? If so, condense everything here into one or two sentences, and move on. Something like: Mandy Patrone has saved up her money for a vacation in Spain, but before she even unpacks her bags, Basques have kidnaped her and are driving her to Andorra to leverage the release of a terrorist. When the hunky Basque Sandoval falls in love with Mandy, the two of them slip into the wilderness and . . . take it from there.


Anonymous said...

Ah, EE. Reminiscing about Mrs. Peel? Says a lot about you.

This seemed contrived. As EE pointed out, there's no reason the (unnamed) Englishman would reveal to Alejandro where Juan is, in a voice just loud enough for Mandy to hear, and then order the killing of Alejandro. The ONLY reason for this is contrivance--so Mandy now has the information needed to move the plot forward.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

A note about the Basque language: The Basque language is unique as in it is the only language in its family. All other similiar languages died out as the Indo-European family based on Latin, Greek, Celtic, and German (among others) spread across Europe, eastern Asia, India, and down into the Middle East.

Here's a fairly thorough map of the Indo-European Languages:

Cool. Bookmarking that myself. *grin*

Word Verification: emyrpero. Wow. Closest I've ever seen one of those come to a real word.

pacatrue said...

Annoying linguist-in-training guy has to jump in about Basque as a unique language, in case anyone else is interested in these sorts of things. EE is, as always, correct that all languages are unique, or they wouldn't be separate languages. If French was just like Spanish, it would be Franish or Spench. I vote for Spench.

However, what I am guessing the author is referring to here is that Basque is an isolate language, meaning that scholars can't find any evidence that Basque is connected to any other language. While English, French, Russian, and Hindi are all Indo-European, which means we have good evidence that all the languages descended from a single earlier language that we call Indo-European, Basque isn't connected to anything else that we know of - Indo-European or otherwise. Most likely, Basque was one of a bunch of languages that once resided in Western Europe, but the others were all lost with the influx of Indo-European speakers, so only Basque is left.

Isolate languages can often seem particularly weird, just because we don't know any other languages like them, but they don't have to be odd or even spoken by only a small group. Japanese, for instance, is considered by most to be an isolate. Korean as well. (Some scholars group them in sort of a North Asian continuum running from Japan through Korea to Mongolia and west, called Altaic, but the support for that position has gotten weaker lately.)

Oh, yeah, there was a query. My main question is: Is this a Romance with suspense, or a suspence/thriller with some romantic elements?

Anonymous said...

You need more engaging reasons for us to care about these rude guys and their little princess. Calling people "terrorists!" doesn't substitute for character or plot development. And as an excitement, it is not very rousing. Bush's "war against terrorism!" has already dragged on into years of deepening quagmire and seems more and more ill-conceived, uninformed, and counterproductive to 70% of us. By appropriating the Bush name-calling word, your popularity is likely to go down. You might try using a term specific to your book and the cause of your characters, like "Basque Freedom Fighters".

Anonymous said...

Author, to say this sounds contrived is an understatement. It's more forced and unnatural than a Matthew Wilder song.

Funny thing is, it sounds like once we get past the unbearable plot elements the story has a lot to offer. If I were you I'd fix the plot by looking at the motivation of characters, along the lines of what EE and XIQUAY said. So far in this story everybody is doing things that make absolutely no sense, just so the plot can move in the direction you're working towards.

Anonymous said...

Juan is uttering nonsense.

Anonymous said...

How about replacing the Englishman with a wolfman?

writtenwyrdd said...

Mrs. Peel was COOL. I wanted to be her when I was a kid. I was cursed with visions of being a spy until I joined the Army and got a clue, lol.

Author, this has some interesting elements, but unless Mandy has some unique value as a hostage (she's American, she's a reporter, she's otherwise famous or related to someone rich) the plausability sounds pretty weak in this letter.

Another point: If this is a romantic thriller, I would expect to hear that the heroine does not fall in love with a captor. One of them had better be a good guy, as in an undercover agent or something. I honestly think most women have more self respect (and knowledge ofthe Helsinki Syndrome) than to fall for a terrorist. (Honestly, the thought of such a plot gags me.)

And a third point: Basque separatists are firmly tied in with a number of other terrorist groups these days. I am suspiscious that there are no mentions of entanglements with other groups and an Englishman mentioned instead. Is he part of a competing group? Because most arms dealers do have ties to particular groups.

I do not claim expertise in these things, but the description of your plot sounded really naive to me, and that would make me suspicious that the plotting would be, too.

Best of luck with it, though.

Saipan Writer said...

I guessed the right plot.

I think the setting is intriguing. I want to read a story set in Andorra, whether it's romance or suspense or a combination.

Hope you sort out the plotting problems others have pointed out.

Stacia said...

Instead of worrying bout the basque language, why not have everyone speaking Esperanto? And Mandy can speak it too, so understand where Juan is, but since nobody speaks Esperanto, this would make sense as a language for bad guys to use.

If this is a romance, focus on the romance and the specific conflict between the H/h. You don't need a list of events. It's, can they get past their differences and find love?

If this isn't a still don't need the list of plot events, I think the focus would be on the MC and her conflict, i.e. can she get home alive?

Anonymous said...

Ahh, Mrs. Peel. My first love.

After reading this query the first time I was confused but too lazy to read it again. Sorry. -JTC

Bernita said...

I'm inclined to agree with Written, though I've heard it referred to as the Stockholm syndrome.
Such a reaction ( while possibly natural if certain conditions are met) on your heroine's part is not a good foundation for any sort of believable long-term relationship, and I would be inclined to label her as TSTL.

Dave Fragments said...

I always had trouble with ORDINAL numbers. Set theory stuff.

They store them in Ordino, of course. There's this little building in the center of Ordino and only let mathemeticians in to see them.

each ordinal as a special well-ordered set, namely that of all ordinals before it. Formally: A set S is an ordinal if and only if S is totally ordered with respect to set containment and every element of S is also a subset of S.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Steed and Mrs. Peel.

EE, do you remember the opening voice over? "Extraordinary crimes against the government must be avenged by agents extraordinary... ."

Author, I agree with what others have said about plot. You've got the makings of a good story if you take it to a higher level.

My word verification--grkoy--suggests you should tie your bad guys to former Soviet KGB.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

This reminds A LOT of Face Lift 241, "Dead Woman's Pass". It has Spanish speakers, bumbling terrorists, odd love story, guerilla, a woman in a place without much of an explanation.

The writing style is similar, and so is the nature of the actions of the characters.

Anonymous said...

After reading this query the first time I was confused but too lazy to read it again. Sorry. -JTC

Perhaps the most honest critique I've ever seen. I suspect this is what most form rejections would say if some cunning linguist translated them from agent-speak into the ugly language of Truth.

As to the query, it seems to all hang on Mandy overhearing the location of Juan and being able to relate that information to the "terrorists", which as others have mentioned is unlikely and seems only written to provide a catalyst to throw Mandy close to el Loverboy. Worse, when (it appears) the search for Juan is abandoned, the whole convulted mess seems wasted. Perhaps there could be some other way to bring Mandy and Sendoa together, which relates more closely to the threat to his family, which seems to mean more to Sendoa than the whole rescuing-Juan thing anyway?

[ JRM ]

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your help, everyone. I'll take all of your suggestions to heart.

I'm leaning toward the suspense thriller and toning down the romance on this one. LOTS of research involved. Hopefully, in the end it will all make sense.

Yup, the Basque language is amazing. Aboriginal languages in North America are also isolate. Most are extinct, but some remain, such as the Haida language in British Columbia, which is endangered.

Also, the political situation of the First Nations in parts of North America seems to parallel that of the Basque Region. JMO

The original Mrs. Peel, please, not Uma. (Sorry, Uma.)

Anonymous said...

I often have to read things twice, jr.

I often have to read things twice, jr.

It take me forever to read a novel. -JTC

WV: ycokq Custom make for me.

Stacia said...

You're very sweet, chumplet, but I do hope you won't take my suggestion about Esperanto to heart, as it was a joke. :-)

(Which of course I know you knew. I'm just stretching the joke now.)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE you guys!

Almost every word verification is probably in Euskara. Ya never know.

Anonymous said...

The original, of course. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Us bomb-throwing minions always shut up quickly when it turns out the author is one of our own. Sometimes we feel downright sheepish. That's loyalty! Baaah! [bleet] [bleet]

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Us bomb-throwing minions always shut up quickly when it turns out the author is one of our own. Sometimes we feel downright sheepish. That's loyalty! Baaah! [bleet] [bleet]

Good to know, Anon. But I can take the abuse. I'm used to it by now.

Any dangerous predators in the Pyrenees? Snakes in a Tree? Sharks in a Bullring?

Esperanto's out, December. Unless we throw in a gun-toting linguist just to throw the plot further into confusion.

Dave Fragments said...

I write a bunch of stories about guys who get changed into something else.
And since I write for my pleasure, I just write whatever weird story or bizarre transformation strikes my fancy.

I have been asked - Why did that character want to become a (insert animal, robot or statue)?

It's a little like creating a too stupid to live character (Star Trek had one on every episode, he or she was dead by the middle of the story) Expendable is a good euphimism for too stupid to live. Their reason to live is simply to die.

To the point - you need to visit this website:
It documents a list of mistakes made by those villians we all love in those (guilty pleasure) MAD MAN TAKES OVER THE WORLD stories.

This might help you decide why anyone in your story does anything. After all, meglomaniacal villians do stupid things. My favorite is Ming the Magnificent BTW.

Anonymous said...

Omigod, Dave - I stopped at about Rule #40 but they're all hilarious. Soooo Dr. Evil of Austin Powers fame.

You are eerily on track regarding my characters. Some of them aren't the sharpest crayons in the box.

Saipan Writer said...

Thanks for sharing, Dave.

Our local police force could benefit from this one:

"During times of peace, my Legions of Terror will not be permitted to lie around drinking mead and eating roast boar. Instead they will be required to obey my dietician and my aerobics instructor."

Anonymous said...

Pinky: "What are we going to do now, Brain?"
Brain: "Same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world."

Anonymous said...

Each ordinal as a special well-ordered set, namely that of all ordinals before it...

*slaps Dave*

That's for the nasty grad-school flashback you just gave me, Dave. Sheesh.


Dave Fragments said...

If you think about it, there are lots of characters who are fairly stupid about what they are doing.

Take Frodo, the hero of Tolkein's Ring. He doesn't understand the task until he's so far along it, he feels it's hopeless. It's when they run out of food and water in the land of the dead that he finally realizes just how hard it will be to get rid of the ring. Really not to bright.

I won't even mention Merry and Pippin Took, the two TSTL hobbits who in the course of the story grow up.

So I say, write your silly, meglomanical and demented heroes and villians. And if they are big enough, give them operatic speeches.